Forgive me father for I have sinned. It’s been over a month since my last blog post. I have to admit that I have a new found appreciation for all the bloggers out there. Even if it’s a labor of love, although they make it look easy – it’s not! I find that finding time is my biggest issue. There always seems to be something that I should be doing more than typing away at a keyboard. Anyway, with a new found appreciation and some retooled goals let’s get this going again….
A couple of years back I did something that’s slowly becoming a tradition, the “cooler of surprises”. I first did it for a fourth of July party a friend of mine was throwing. The usual “bring side dishes” requests were nixed and it was simply a BYOB event. Well, being one of those people who hate to come empty handed and like to do a little something-something to aid the party, I came up with the cooler of surprises.
Assembling the cooler is easy. Take your standard “goes to parties” cooler and fill it with whatever odd assortment of beers you can find. Having a local beer store with an awesome selection makes this process easy. I like to fill mine with 22oz (bomber) bottles, you’ll see why in a moment. Add lots of ice. And party.
Once at the party I always inform those interested of the rules for the cooler of surprises. They’re only two, and easy to follow:
Rule 1 : No rummaging in the cooler of surprises. Open lid, reach in, pull out.
Rule 2 : You must share (this is where the 22oz bottles come in handy).
I recently did this for a work buddy’s Labor Day BBQ. He enjoys trying different beers and he was tossing down some seriously great food, so I felt obligated to bring something I knew he’d enjoy and have fun with. The great thing about doing this is that you always make new friends. Once a bottle or two has been cracked and passed around, craft beer lovers will catch wind quickly, and come over to see what’s going on. Once you have beer lovers standing around talking about beer, well that’s a party right there.
When picking beer for the cooler I generally try to zen it. I might pick one or two things I’ve tried that I think people will enjoy, but for the most part I try to stock it with things I haven’t had as well. I also try to keep the party situation in mind. My buddy’s BBQ was in the middle of August, so I passed on beers like heavy stouts.
According to my Untappd log, this was the content of the Labor day cooler:
S.O.B Special Old Bitter Ale by Atlantic Brewing Company
Coney Island Sword Swallower by Shmaltz Brewing Company (He’Brew)
Fish Paralyzer by RJ Rockers Brewing Co.
Ozzy by The Brewer’s Art
Bete Blanche by Elysian Brewing Company
Lord Wimsey’s by Baying Hound Aleworks
Super Cru (Lips of Faith) by New Belgium Brewing Company
Dogma by BrewDog
Fat Tire by New Belgium Brewing Company
Black Lightning by DuClaw Brewing Company
Life and Limb by Dogfish Head/Sierra Nevada
Once things got rolling, one bottle, then another got selected, open and pass around. Like I said, you can always find craft beer lovers at a party. The Fish Paralyzer got raves from the small crowd we had. The Bete Blanche was the first thing I’ve ever had from Elysian Brewing before and I really liked it so I’ll be looking for more stuff from them. And one drinker said of the Fat Tire, “DAMN!”
So next time you’re invited to a party, put together your own “cooler of surprises” and make some new friends!
Do you have any beer traditions for parties or get togethers?